tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 6, 2013 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
what's going to be needed to repairs. we have prioritized working with the state. some of the first projects we're be -- were going to be all debris and all of the emergency costs that were expended. oute were dollars that went the door immediately. so as we've been going through that, we have to have to demonstrate the cost so that we can satisfy the theirements that they did work. it was expended. and we reimbursed that. out most of the emphasis has been on the initial cost. there are some that were still either needing more documentation -- and if you got specifics, we'll working on them. the rebuilding piece of those project worksheets is going to take more time. get in the permanent work, we have several different tools we're trying to use to speed this process up. we still have to work through the processes to ensure is this over 50%, are we going to be abl to mitigate thi? and what is the longer term requirements to build.
>> thank you. for assistant secretary darcy, obviously long island is so important. people are very concerned about the time it's taking for the stabilization projects within study to be started and to know when these emergency stabilization projects will be done. give a quick update about where we are on that process? to --n the fire island >> correct. >> we have begun doing some of wasemergency response which part of the rebuilding what was there. reviewingcurrently the fire island to montauk point as i mentioned. but un-- anrized authorize but unconstructed project. we have to look at that time to make sure it's in today's sea and climate change lens that we're look through and building to the right dimensions. we're committed to doing some expedited review processes for projects.se >> thank you very much, senator booker. we'll probably have time for another round if there's available questions.
>> i just want to say, again, this you for holding hearing. i have a lot of affection for you even though we've only been days.gues for six [laughter] born from thefection is fact that you know what it's like to be a mayor and the difficulties you have grappling with the real issues on the every single day. people don't know what a secretary's number is. they don't know what a but theyr's number is know where you live. it's something that i take very, very seriously. i just want to say to the panel assembled, i'm grateful that you're here. here for six days. i still have that new senator smell, i'm told. i've had a chance to deal with the secretary on multiple occasion as mayor. think the obama administration has many stars and frankly none of them shine brighter than you do. the frustration my office already has is that we are ofling with lots and lots people who feel the sense of discontent, ill at ease, frustration. and a lot of stories. and we're unraveling them.
assembled here has been incredible with my office. meeting look forward to with you and bringing a lot of the individual concerns that were not necessarily necessary go through here because you've made yourself so available. i'm sure, and i expect, i'm sure toan expect, the ability meet with all of you as i deal with what is a sense of urgency office. shaun, excuse me, secretary donovan -- thank you very much. you can call me cory. i know the best thing about you is that your head is with the atire state but you married new jerseyan, so your heart is with new jersey i'm sure. >> as your colleague says, i married up. >> yes. most exceptionally. office, and wey plan on spending time in the district over this next month meeting with a lot of families many of them don't know who to call. they're so frustrated. they don't feel like they can government anymore. they've gone through some of the .ed tape and gotten nowhere as we stood -- two points to
make. hopingchairperson, i'm that we can do more of these as a recovery continues. this is to the going to be twoshed in a month, in months, in five months. but this is very good as awe move forward. on that, i will sell you one of the goals of this committee and another committee the rolesir is one of the senate should do more of is oversight so we're not waiting but sixisis to occur months from now or a year from now we're going is have these conversations baugh we want to keep track of how it's going. and if there's legislative and regulatory changes, we should be trying to do that in concert. the idea is to have oversight to bork with -- work with agencies improve what they're doing and make sure people are what they thought they were getting. >> my hope -- >> that shouldn't count geeps time -- against your time. i'm telling that to the staff, the clock holder. >> senate is a generous finding.on i'm
>> he is new. >> the point is that sense of urgency you get from being a mayor is the sense of urg urgeny we're going to treat this with.m we have challenging counties on the western shore of new jersey who feel they've been left out of this equation, who feel like there's everything from debris still in bodies of water to destroyed.l so my hope with everybody is we ,et up our internal benchmarks that we'll be able to touch base over a regular period of time to make sure that your professionals are operating with that constant sense of urgency and driving your teams as hard meet the needs of the state of new jersey. in the 90 seconds i have my friend, again, a when we have respect, stood together just about two weeks ago when i was still senator-elect, we talked about the next tranche being released. it was interesting. heard from the mayor's assembly and some individual hope isions so my there's going to be a third tranche. to you've done a lot
expedite funding compared to what happened in previous -- you brought it to a whole new level. concern is, it still doesn't seem fast enough. secretary donovan in the few seconds i have remaining, could you just talk generally about things you're doing to further expedite it and help me understand your expectation on that third so critical. is >> thank you for your leadership in newark as well. .he city is much stronger many family that would not have gotten help without your leadership i have know there is still pain there. but thank you for your leadership. i know you're going to bring the same energy to the senate as well. i think the problem with talking about these is this is blocking and tackling hundreds of small that are made a-- decision that are made along the way. orould give you a list of 20 30 key changes that we've made that have made a difference.
was someexample, there cruel irony that anyone who started rebuilding themselves wouldn't then be eligible for cdbg help. we changed that with urging for many of your colleagues so that now somebody can get reimbursed. that's just one small example. historic preservation reviews in the environmental. we followed on with fema's good made a programmatic agreement that sped that up. so there are hundreds of small things like that. the areas where i would say big picture are most insurance the process. not just on flood insurance and having enough reviewers and other things in a very, very dense area like new york or new but also getting sodowner policies align that families can know -- often they get their insurance. then they can't even get access because their bank is there. and that's something we've worked on. i think that's critical. and then the environmental reviews.
the committee did something very important in giving us the authority. when fema puts money into a project to just accept their environmental review, we don't any that authority for other agency. it's something we think legislatively ought to be done. that's an example. happy to provide you a longer list. >> ok. thank you. >> i'll get back if you're able to stay. we'll give you another round. but senator schumer? >> thank you. the first question is to secretary a-- assistant darcy.ry i'm really worried about more the wayacy getting in .f doing rock away, fire island one of the problems we ever as omb, even though we gave the secretary the authority to approve general reevaluation reports, without extra review by omb, they seem to be demanding review. about this.omb we've talked about it. but i'm really worried about
getting in the way of both the fimp study and east rock to rockaway inlet. if they have to review everything, it's going to slow things down too much. that gives me worry about another storm. could you tell us what's view,ing, what's your your candid view, of o.m.b.'s shall i say meddling here? and what we can do to speed things up. doing,thing that we're senator schumer, with both the limited reevaluation reports as the general reevaluation reports is we're having monthly with c.e.q. and o.m.b. with our division commander me, to give them a status report on a monthly basis ofwhere we are on each these -- of the 18 projects that you're referring to that were in thatnterim two report so we can all know what the status where we are so that that
will help to speed that review. it will be ongoing before there's even a final product. -- i's my understanding was probably the lead author of this legislation -- that we o.m.b. approval for were alreadyat authorized like fimp are they seeking such approval and is it the way? i don't mind your consulting with them. that's fine with me. senator,s stage, those -- a say -- we're going to be consulting with them and reviewing this. law as itl follow the was. tooo -- without being confrontational to your dear friends, you're agreeing with me that the law does not require their approval? >> that's correct. >> thank you. very good answer. [laughter] >> that was a perfect answer. not sure i feel comfortable about it. [laughter] >> yeah. perfect from this side of the table. >> let me just say if i can, senator schumer, your honesty
forthrightness is greatly appreciated. >> right. ok. to --t we're going >> i can feel it. secretary -- another -- i mean it. guyguys have done -- you and gals have done a very good job. rochester.rom so that explains a lot of it. two questions. when can we expect an announcement of the remaining f.t.a. emergency relief funds? and more importantly, federal behway relief money cannot used for mitigation, like on ocean parkway. that's why we turn to other help us with ocean parkway. but, are you considering using any of your authority to use f.t.a. money for resiliency on
other transportation modes? do that should you wish, as i understand it. it wasn't used on ocean parkway but it should be in other places on long island and in new york city. that.e a little about >> you're correct, senator. first, the authority exists under the act for the secretary to another money mode. first to answer your question on of transitanche money -- again, that's the single biggest need in the transportation network. well know. we have a notice of funding availability that's in internal review right now. we will have that completed very quickly. for $3 billion, specifically awarded on a merit resiliency projects. we will coordinate it with the taskforce by, for example, making sure that we have corps, reviewersand other looking at that from a systems
perspective to make sure -- $3 billion is a fraction of the niedermayered out there. -- of the need, needed out there the transit network. the thinking is also there are real projects that may fall into category. there are shared facilities of,h you're well aware substation 4 is it, an amtrak-owned but serves both new transit and inner city passenger rail. and either through the award directly or through the secretary's transfer authority, be real projects. we do not anticipate going and inner city passenger rail projects with that. >> right i have just hope you'll an open mind with the remaining $2 billion in terms of authority using your to transfer so we can build better to avoid the next storm. very important. >> resiliency will be our focus and we know given the vulnerability of the whole network.ation but in particular, the transit
system -- and what we know about sea level rise, for example, we have a lot of work to do. >> you bet. could i ask one more question your indulgence? >> almost time for a second round. this goes to first mr. holloway and then shaun donovan of as is news.s, it's not homeowners are complaining they're not getting the money .uickly enough there are all kinds of reasons for that. as i said, i think the second going to be much, much happier with the money's in ing.pipeline and flow the spigot is open. but what, in your opinion, i'm sureway -- and this would be true for your colleagues in long island and well -- is the biggest red tape problem getting in the way of aid to homeowners and projects at the federal level? >> i'll start by saying that there's been a lot of red tape that previously had existed up.'s been cleared so that has been tremendous.
is a challenge, cdbg is essentially the backstop, it is a challenge to get to the backstop. >> right. >> now, that is not to say that hud's issue,sarily but getting verification from insurance companies, getting everybody's financial conditions order is very challenging to do. to say what would relieve that issue, figuring out the right kind of way without up the specter of duplication of benefits and all of those things which have a lot of the creation of a lot of process to basically get enough data to say, ok, we're pretty sure we're good -- that -- you know, we can give you some portion of funding even if you're not at the end of the verification
process. i know that would be difficult do. but that's the challenge. >> and, yes, a lot of that -- we to pay when insurance has already paid. would you agree that, shaun? donovan? >> i think it is absolutely the center of many of the things that appear as red tape to homeowners whether they're necessary or just, frankly, unnecessary delays. one of the things that as we started to work through this my team began developing is call a program in a box. one of the problems that you state orhat each locality developing particularly smaller localities, new york city has as high capacity. i'm a little biased here. but as high capacity as any city the country. but for many of the smaller hitunities that have been to create a brand new program, to figure out how to do these other things is a major barrier.
so what weaver' begun to work -- is a begun to working on program in a box where literally we could say here's the model, it and it will allow you to move faster. i don't think that takes care of all the issues. but it certainly could remove some of the unnecessary red tape. and then i think it's worth thinking about on duplication of benefits are there things that we could do to simplify and streamline that while still not running afoul of basically subsidizing insurance companies. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, senator booker. >> thank you very much. couple of quicks ones and then to senator booker. as -- dawned on me in your testimony you mentioned the impact of sequestration to some of the this next round we're about to hit, the cr and sequestrationtial if we can't get a budget, will that have an impact on the have?onal resources you i don't know -- >> generally speaking, senator, reductionne-time of -- so specifically for the
a 5%illion, it was reduction down to 15.2. that's pretty much across the board. >> that's -- ok. good. i can ask i can, if you a question, you had reporting process that aren't in place. someou going to prepare at point or you could prepare, i guess, for this committee, kind what those items would recommend to ensure that at transparency more in reporting of how the expenditures are being done so people like yourself and others can review them in a more accurate way? and if that is done by or legislation. that's the first question. second questio have you in whate looking at and uncovered any questions or hot that might say here's an area we better be looking at today in regards to some of expenditures. and if the answer is yes to
that, is that occurring? last question make sense? >> yes. mr. chairman, we're happy to information on specific recommendations that we would make. but just to sort of give you -- one thing we really learned from recovery is the public is very iserested in where money going, really specifically where it is going and what it's being for. a lot of our impetus, you know, ofon transparency information. easy fix to usn to do what the federal base alreadyata does, which is when a hurricane or a special event hits, they special code. and why can't we do that on usa spending so that we know what on website is being spent for hurricane sandy? us.ust seems easy to >> what's the response? >> it had to be something done
right out of the box. doisn't something we can now. it isn't something -- >> let me pause you there. >> please. >> we have four agencies here. >> yes. >> so your statement is a good statement. question ifere's my i can pause you for a second to the four agencies. system now or a into the knew tour -- future -- assume there's no disaster coming, would be a mistake. there will be one at some point. can you do this simple system here? >> senator, let me address because we have been working with the recovery accountability and transparency board on this. set up a system to collect data. website available monthly with information on spending. i think the issue is not that we can't do that. to get to the level of detail and information requires
additional steps sox we do fact, it wasin parted of our sandy recovery taskforce report, that we ought to have a legislative requirement for future appropriations like that we a project management officen that there are data requirements -- regulativeeed a requirement? why don't you just do it? answer is that because -- the extent of work get to that to reporting. it means inserting in hundreds the federalcross government particular lines or codes. is not something you can do overnight. to jump in.he wants can we go back? >> well, i don't know. to not knowing the mechanics of what happens on the federal procurement data system. every contract let by the thatnment, it's a system g.s.a. has set up in the federal
procurement data system that you a box thatt fill in says, yes, this is a hurricane sandy. national interest action code, i think it is called. i think we're really talking about something that i think usa spending itself could generate. know if it has to mean changes to thousands of agency's feeding data. i know that the hud taskforce and they doood job have a website that does discuss spending. very highit's at a level. and the secretary is right that what we're really talking about much more granular. now, usa spending has some of that. know, it that, you does not separately capture or you can't, you know, search by, what's a code for hurricane sandy. there's no reason why the major portal we have for federal that.ng can't do i don't think -- i'm not a
person who can tell you what the having thate of done. but i think it can be done without actually legislation, i think. there just has to be a decision made to do it. that. me hold you at i've run out of time. let me ask you that last -- .irst part of the question can you produce for the committee that shopping list? >> absolutely. >> ok. would you submit that? and if you can indicate if you think it's regulatory or legislative so that can help us do a little understanding of what we can do here or what we can press to have happen. will. >> fantastic. senator booker for your next round. take toll yays in the fact that this -- take solis in the fact that this committee as will have hearings in the future. obviously this is probably one two storms that had a has hit our country in the last century in terms of its impact, damage, and cost.
especially in our region in the region, whichrsey -- this ishe most obviously something of great concern. not just to our region but to the country as a whole. mark for the record my gratitude that everyone shook their heads up and down about to meet withness me and work with my office as we try to tackle these problems. bring up --g i'll and i know i'm looking forward gateeting with mr. few and -- fugate and discuss this issue. i guess i'm confused. the municipal level things don't make sense. but national level, i'm sure rational here in washington. has chilled my understanding of what's going to happen to my region when the insurance rates go so up, it's going to devastate, devastate areas of
new jersey. not only it will affect homers on being but they won't even abible to sell their homes. who's going to buy their homes high insurance levels? for my understanding, just my into thisto dig personally, when bigger waters to do at required fema study about the insurance kwreu78ility and the pact on the region. it seems like a critical thing before you allow the phasing in high these incredibly insurance rates that we would know sort of what we're going to do to that legion. guess -- a matter of the record for now and something we could get into more when we you let me understand what's going on with that study and what it really devastatinghe this could have to regions like mine? >> yes. was to move towards an insurance sound program that would encourage private sector participation because we would
no longer subsidize rates below value. there were many pieces to that. generally when you would see would tien that specific action before further action would go, the language would have been written so that affordability study would have been requirement before you went to the next steps. the way the legislation was was all done con currently. so the phase-in was not tied to an affordability being done. it was affordability study to be but not hold up any of the other implementations. i think this is the area we've and worked. senator menendez asked for drafting assistance that the that we wereng given and time frames -- we wasn't to the we went to the national academy of science. they informed us they could not complete the study. that even seem rational to you to let the phasing in understanding how the study is completed? >> the ability to not phase in permitted in the legislation. there were certain time frames
that we were required to implement those phase-ins to start moving towards actually ago we hadyear already done secondary hoaxes, commercial-- homes, and repetitive loss. the next steps were for those subsidized,rrently phase them in over a period of time. and then the one that's causing the most immediate problem, there is a very limited phase in. of these changes were predicated upon when the legislation was passed, you had certain time frames to get that done. and the only delays was the regulatory process of implementing those rules for that. the affordability study, although still required, again, technical the drafting assistance that we need to be able to expend the funds, of national academy sciences, would be required and allow the time frames they stated it would be allowed. then postpone the increases for those areas until that study done. >> that sounds like a
recommendation. it makes sense to do the study. the study right now is not being done, nor do we have the money the study yet we're still moving forward with the phasing in in. it sounds like you're saying thing to do,able to do it right, to actually understand -- to do the study, allocate whatever resources are necessary so we understand and don't fly into this blind and hurt a lot of people. >> again, understand that as the legislation was signed into law, implementing the law. as it's been designed. whenis an area that senator mendez and the previous hearing that i testified on flood insurance, he specifically to supports technical drafting assistance. and that is exactly what we've on. working how do we make insurance o so we don't subsidize risks beyond which there's a return of taxpayer?it but the intended goal should not to be place people out of their homes because we make insurance so unaffordable.
>> i understand that i guess what i'm missing is the link. i'll talk to the senator about this. i guess i'm missing a link. in other words, you've provided the technical assistance. not done.till >> it still requires legislative this to behange signed into law. as we understand the law, we given any flexibility in implementing the time frames regulations done that the affordability study was were note increases dependent upon affordable study being done. it was written in such a way being done all concurrent. >> you're saying it's on the legislature to act in order for way it be done the should be done. time, weestified last have not found any way to delay those implementations without at of congress giving us of ability to suspend some those increases until such time as an affordability studsy is done. >> we're rushing forward with this not knowing the impact that's going to have, not
knowing if we've struck the balance. that to me just seems a million damaging.ong and would you agree? >> i would agree that i've don't addresse affordability, our risk is we're not going to be able to move this program to a sound basis. we'll subsidize risk being, encourage growth and development where we should be building that way. put people out of their homes. so there is a balance that has atbe struck between looking at ad forrability but -- at affordability but not risk at such a low rate we increase vulnerabilities. we have got to change how we're building. but it should not be at the expense of people in their homes, forcing them out. but understand that long-term we have got to look at how do we build in coastal communities in such eh way that people's homes are not threatened every time we face a storm. >> i agree with you. frustrating thing for me is, you've got to know before you go. thee acting without having knowledge base necessary to make
sound decisions. ad we could end up with situation profoundly devastati devastating. could just -- two points. this is an issue the administration raised when bigger waters was passed. in our statement of administration policy, we raise fact that there was not an affordability provision that would allow us to protect folks. raised in thewe sandy taskforce report. to echo craig's point that this is something to act on without undermining what is an important in making the program snag doesn't encourage development in places. i think it's important we strike that balance. we could get some authority to start doing this even before the affordability work is done if we could correctly with you to get the right legislation. >> i would agree. colleagues from new york as well as the chairman
probably would agree with that as well. thank you. much.nk you very let me add to that and then close this hearing. we have a piece of legislation, know, that's pending. i'm hopeful that you have reviewed that legislation that implementation based on the affordability study done. i would ask if you have not input on that, at least to have tomittee, you may individual members. i would greatly appreciate that. what you're experiencing, ofator booker is a piece legislation that was not crafted well. it was crafted with a good but there is piece of the equation that was discovered after the fact that now we're trying to fix. problem is, the administration is bound by the go through they must through. if we went back in time, i bet be a different discussion going on knowing the facts we know today. but we are in this quandary. we a bill pending.
senator mendez. i'm a co-sponsor. is to partially unwrap this to get us to the anordability study, get to affordability of rates, and then deal with the rate structure has to be reform. i think the administrators made it very clear. and everyone knows this. reform but wee have to get to the affordability and also the timetable. it's one of these pieces of you lookon that when at it today, you go, why didn't we fill in the blank. thewe're trying to fill in blank but clock is work much faster for them to administer versus us legislatively. there is a pending bill. we're anxious to try to find a to move it. senate has a version. house has no version as far as we know right now. me say for the record we'll stay open until november 21 for additional questions that and submit tove the committee. i do want to thank the panel. usually we break panels into two. because of all the uniqueness and experiences you all have, it was important table. you all at the thank you for being here. thank you for being part of this
hearing. then, to senator booker and other folks from new jersey and new york that were here, we will efforts to follow this and make sure we're on the right track with the expenditures and activity with it's aecause i think good learning opportunity to make sure we improve our system. thank you all for being here. committee isappreciate t. the adjourned.joern captioning performed by the national captioning institute. captions commeyright national corp2013]llite
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> we'll have remarks from president obama this afternoon. he's traveling to dallas to speak with volunteers who have and working on enrollment outreach efforts for the healthcare law. you can see the president live 5:40 eastern here on c-span.
after it's over we'll take your and comments. tonight, more about the h.h.s.are law with secretary kathleen sebelius. she testified earlier today in front of the senate finance about the healthcare website's problems and what's being done to fix them. an exchange. m relying on the advice not only of the inside team and contractors, but a lot of the outside experts who have come in to take a look at this system and they did a number of things along the way. they did a series of diagnostics, looked at the entire system and determined at the outset that healthcare.gov is fixable, that it is not fatally flawed, which was the from many people. secondly, we have asked that question a number of times.
would it be helpful to take down the whole system and make fixes along the way? we have been advised that that actually does not help, that it is better to do routine operations, some of which are hot patches that can be done while the system is fully running and others are better to be done in the maintenance , whenn 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. the user experience is low and we take the system down for periods of time. but given the fact that the various fixes, various functionality fixes, the code, have to be written in batches, it has been advised that you do not gain much from taking the whole system down for a week or a couple of weeks, that it is better to do this on an ongoing basis. who i think is, somewhat in charge of fixing some of this as far as i can .ell, says he has a punch list
and he is going to punch them out one by one. how many items are on that punch list? which of them have been punched out? when do you expect to do the end to end testing? helpff has come into manage the operations between the contractors and the cms team and the aggressive fix schedules. he will be with us, hopefully, through this process. he has been enormously helpful in being a management lieutenant with maryland, the cms administrator. i would say that there are a couple of hundred functional fixes that have been identified. .hey are in priority grouping
the first series of them has been underway. depends on the night. it is hard to give you a moment by moment snapshot. there was a number that were done last night, hardware, additional installations were done over the weekend. or 6:00 each day it is really identified whether or not the testing for the individual coding fix can be actually apply that night. the list changes, but mr. chairman we will get you an update and i would say that we are into the list and not where we need to be, but that it is a fairly aggressive schedule to get to the entire list. >> are you going to do an end to end? wax because the site is running, it is an to end daily.
people are coming through every day and it helps to identify some of what we are seeing. what we are doing with live time and to end testing, we could go back and inform the tech team what needs to happen. >> speaking of, i want this to work. is a two-way street, you have to tell us what is going on candidly, fully, so that we do not >> you can see the hearing at 8:00 p.m. tonight. senate armed services committee a hearing tomorrow on the effective automatic budget cuts on national defense. testimony from -- testimony. that's live thursday 9:0030 a.m.
on c-span 3. who grew up in a very poor family of all sons, he well-to-do family of all daughters. she attended a finishing school card. have her report in english,t a b inenin she got a c-minus in european history. knew in later years as a military wife and future first she would be so well traveled and have so much to do with european history. charms.ved early on ike bought her this west point football charm and navy gamemy scores from 1913 and 1914 when ike was coach for the army football team. as a military wife, mamie took great pride in creating a home for ike in each of the 36 different place that they lived
marriage. their >> watch our program on first lady mamie eisenhower at our website or see it saturday on eastern. 7:00 p.m. and our series continues live monday as we look at first lady kennedy.e >> one of the things that has mind is how dallas has changed in general just from, say, the political standpoint. early 1960'sin the and late 1950's, there was much less balanced political climate here. toward thereat deal right side. a fact, i remember seeing publication in one of the two papers. i forget whether it was the news,herald or the dallas somebody had bought a full-page ad the day before president
kennedy came with president andedy's picture on it said, "wanted for treason." specter, who came down here six months after the assassination, represented the commission, junior counsel. he was the one that quizzed me. with, he camever out in the hall at parkland and because he was quizzing me about entrance. no question about it. thought it was an entrance -- i i want to tell, we have people who will testify they saw him shot from the overpass, but we do not believe they're credible witnesses and i don't want you saying anything about it. >> marking the 50th anniversary of president kennedy's assassination, eyewitness two of the doctors who treated both president kennedy and lee harvey oswald 3:00 p.m. eastern. part of american history tv this on c-span 3. anthe supreme court heard oral argument earlier today on the constitutionality of opening
with prayer.etings lawyers in the case spoke with reporters immediately after the .rguments this is 35 minutes. .> rob schenck with me today is pastor pat , of greece, new york, who has offered many of the prayers before the greece town issue innd that are at this case. what we heard this morning in
veryourtroom was a vigorous exchange between the and the attorneys representing the two sides of debate. we also heard more than a few are quite skeptical dictatinggovernment how or when clergy or any pray.n is allowed to this court has consistently that prayers offered at legislative sessions are, constitutional. legislativeat wholely consistent with both the declaration of independence and with the constitution. they weren't, as some of the justices alluded to in their
comments from the bench today, the court would be in trouble the courtf because began its session today with a prayer when the marshall declared, "god save the united this honorable court." thehermore, as a number of justices indicated in their remarks today, among them the government, role i in dictating the content of any prayer. it is our position that the government has no authority to instruct anyone in the form or prayer.of for the government to tell a citizen when he or she is to pray or not to pray is a the firstiolation of amendment, free exercise clause,
prohibits the government from interfering with exercise. i felt that we heard the very clearly that a government official is in no dictate how a prayer should be worded. us want the government telling us what a good prayer is bad prayer is. ban prayer aturt town council meetings or the government would, in fact, do precisely what the original plaintiffs in don't want, and that is to establish a religion, a religion that requires meaningless prayers to an unknown god. that i'll yield to the pastor who is at the center of
activity in greece, new york. pastor, please. >> good morning. name is patrick medeiros. serve at greece assembly of god in the town of greece. offered prayers before our town council many, last 14es over the years. gody prayers i have asked to bless our community, to bless leaders, to grant them divine wisdom as they do the ourle's business there in community. and when i've been asked to said yes, to serve our community. i see this as part of my civic responsibility as a citizen. my prayernister, it's that the justices will uphold my right.utional and the ministers in our
continue's right to this great tradition to pray during these meetings. thank you. >> i've been professor of constitutional law focusing on amues, religion and law, and currently distinguished research professor of law and theology of faith evangelical college. before i make my comments, i ed with thei'm please probing question -- i'm pleased with the questions of the court today. would assert the courts are constitution y the constitution. as justice suitor said, i can imagine a subject less amenable to the confidence of the federal judiciary are avoided whento be possible than comparative theology. we would agree with the guidance of the marsh and lee opinions that the courts are
parse the content of public prayers and that regulating a prayers content establishment clause by imposing a civic orthodoxy of neutrality. opposed neutrality would define what theological terms prayer, an in this impossible task, and would have the courts imposing official prayers. secondly, it is not possible to have a religiously neutral prayer. a guaranteed right of voluntary public prayer to a setting already confirmed within the history of our people, its documents, and supreme court in previous rulings. religions only share some points however, and are quite divergent in others. suchxample, some religions as christianity, judaism and islam believe in one god whereas of hinduism believe in many gods. recovers prayers in the name of allah and jewsies
jesus respectively whereas others to a supreme being. rick a non-sectarian prayer is on freee a burden exercise of religion in the name of no establishment which flies the words and practices of those who wrote the irst amendment religion clauses clauses. to demand some supposed neutral prayer is to strike at the core itself.ion as was made plain in the court wayy, i believe, the only that one may avoid violation of the establishment clause and uphold the free exercise of religion clause is to hold that not interfere with the right of a person to pray in a civic context dictates of the conscious and not to define the theological content of this prayer. .hank you
>> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. scott, seniorg director of media relations at alliance defending freedom. defending freedom defended the town of greece since the suit was filed against them in 2008. keye got a couple of members of the legal team defending the town of greece who shortbe delivering a statement -- short statements. and after that, if you want one-on-one interviews, you can track me down and i'd be happy to facilitate that. tom? >> i'm happy to answer questions. i don't have a statement to give. yar.s hung >> the justice's remarks you and the questions they had, overall there today. >> sure. as is always the case, the court
was very active. they had lots of questions for both sides. they explored lots of challenging hypotheticals. predictions about how the court is going to rule because it's very hard to know. positionu restate your again? >> sure. the town of greece has a practice thatayer is consistent with the traditions of this country from founding congress from the very beginning of our history has had a legislative prayer practice that is town ofle to what the greece has been doing. it's simply solemnizes the occasion and invokes blessing on the legislators as they begin their work. session there's nothing unconstitutional abou that. the other sides' arguments would to censorvernment prayers to decree what is orthodox and what is not when givers are giving public prayer. that would be contrary to our liberty.s of religious >> where does it end? is there no limit to your position? >> the supreme court in the prior case in 1983 upholding
the statee prayer at level said that as long as the byyer is not being exploited the government to proselytize or faiths,e particular then it's not constitutionally a problem and it is not permissible for the courts to regulate the content of the prayer. and there's no claim that the greece of the town of violate those prohibitions, and therefore they're constitutional. >> what's wrong with giving and ministers guidelines and guidance as to what's acceptable and unacceptable? what theends on guidelines are. if the guidelines are what the mavs want here, which is to say words toray in these these deities but not in those words to those deities, that is government regular lating the theological content of prayers prescribing what is orthodox and religion.t in and that is contrary to our tradition of religious liberty. ask theministers community to bow their heads or join them in prayer, is that not proselytizing? is not. first of all, no one is required to do it. people are free not to do it.
similar things happen from time to time in the legislature or in congress. and since people are free to or not as they choose, there's no constitutional problem with that. don't think that would make somebody uncomfortable if they're the only one not bowing their head? >> the supreme court has upheld that someone might object to a madecular practice or uncomfortable is not the fusional test -- constitutional test. thee talking about establishment clause and whether or not the government is establishing a particular religion. here the town of greece practice is open to people of any religion or no religion if they invocation.ve an >> [question inaudible] only for members of other prayers, gave those why did that not happen until the initial lawsuit? past.id not happen in the >> the practice like the practice of many governmental thees was to invite all of clergy in the town with regardless of dename nation or to deliver a prayer if it they chose.
it happened the people who chose prayer in greece were christian until 2008 when after this lawsuit was publicized and the complaints publicized, more people became aware of the opportunity and non-christians began inivering the prayer both 2008 and several times since then. actively invite other members of other religions? >> i'm sorry. actively invite other members of other religions? they say, hey, it's open? a the town has never made secret of its policy. no one had ever requested prior case. plaintiffs in this when the plaintiffs in this case complained, the town offered them an opportunity to give an but they declined. >> did say -- >> feeling uncomfortable has standing.ard for [question inaudible] said is thatat i if the supreme court were to adopt the same practice that differente constitutional issues. if the supreme court were to adopt a practice of having only prayer for a -- from a particular denomination that would clearly be more
constitutionally problematic. that's not the practice here. >> the identical prayer, a on one occasion, you think that would fly or not fly? >> on one occasion it's hard to say. there's no similar tradition in the courts. and courts are subject to constraints in terms of the obligation to be ed.ective and unbias but whether one violation -- whether one prayer would be a say.tion, it's hard to >> thank you. i want to thank tom and his team. the did a great job at supreme court and been a great addition to the team. i think more importantly, i want to thank the town of greece. is a concerted effort across our country to completely called publict's prayer, legislative prayer. there are over 200 cases around states where groups are trying to challenge the
historical practice of prayer.ive and many of these small towns can't afford this type of a case. stood up.f greece and their case ended up here. , whatthink it's important plaintiffs want is censorship. i think no one should be in favor of that. differenten you have prayer givers, they should have the liberty to pray according to the dictates of their faith tradition. and that's exactly what this town did it discriminated against none. anyone to comp on -- come on an equal basis. even atheist plaintiffs were i invited to come and give an invocation. you can't have a policy more open than this. and more importantly, and some of the stay with uses asked good questions, should -- justices questions, should the government be in the position of censoring the way people pray? no. the people should be able to compose their own prayers. it's on a rotating basis. serve.ome, first anyone's invited to attend. i think the justices asked some andiguing questions hopefully will come up on the defense of prayer that our
since itss engaged in founding. >> family research counsel members of congress case.s in this as the briefs we filed on behalf of members of congress show, the reality is that the prayer practice in the town of greece, new york, is far more religiously diverse than we actually have in the united states congress. founding of the republic for more than 200 years members of congress have had an official paid chaplain who would be an ordained clergyman who gives prayersally in his own faith tradition. prayersore, 40% of the are offered by guest chaplains as they're sponsored. of them praise according to their own faith tradition. in terms of the issues that the
lower court in this case recognized as problematic, a majority of the prayers offered actually include, according to what the other side sectarian, to be -- 97% are self identified christians and they pray, facing not just the members but also the gallery incorporating all of those citizens and all of their favorites into what they are saying. in 1983 when the supreme court upheld legislative prayer, it told congress as the touchstone of what is acceptable under the first amendment because it was the same congress that in the week they wrote the constitution also created the offices of house chaplain and senate chaplain to offer these public fairs every day. we are pleased with how the argument went and we are hopeful the court will reaffirm this 200 history ande of
tradition as being consistent with the establishment clause and to make it clear that the time has come to really step away from this concept of whether someone feels government is endorsing a religious idea and instead the test is not coercion.t but it is is anyone being coerced to participate in a religious activity contrary to their conscious or some other official national establishment of religion? that is not what is going on. it does not go on in congress. we're hopeful the court will go the right way in this course. >> i argued the case for the play and -- for the plaintiffs. a number of them support the right of citizens to's participate without
participating in another prayer service. most of what you heard was false. there is no rotation system. the only or instructions was to call a pastor. they had no one but christian pastors. i have defended many christians in my career. i do not support the right to use the power of government to oppose on religious minorities. that is what is going on. justice hagan samurai star case, you cannot refuse to participate in the prayer just before you stand up to ask the board to take discretionary action that affects you directly and personally. this is highly coercive and also a sectarian endorsement. it violates all of the principals of the establishment clause that both sides of the court, the liberals and conservatives, have agreed to carry and endorsements are prohibited. and we have both of those things in this case. larger problem,
the message or the method? >> the message. it does not matter who was selected to give the prayer. it matters what the prayer givers says. areprayers in this case explicitly christian and often heavy handedly christian, talking about the saving grace of jesus christ on the crossed and similar things. we do not care if pastors give a prayer as long as they remain nonsectarian. >> how can you make them sectarian to appeal to many religions? how can you do that? >> we have a tradition in this country of nonsectarian prayers that appeal to a wide range of positions. it is true you can't protect everybody. but you can protect almost everybody and you can protect more than one faith. this case is about christians aggressively imposing themselves on their fellow citizens with the power of government. that is not right.
it is not part of the american tradition. plaintiffs?t the >> susan galloway. >> i am susan galloway. i am one of the plaintiffs. i just want to thank americans united for being our attorneys and representing us. i appreciate the justices hearing this case. i think it is important. the town has aligned itself with christianity by just having christian prayer givers. they have had a couple other people but primarily it is christian. sectarian.ery as a citizen i felt i was different. and because of my own faith and my own religious beliefs. i'm glad that the supreme court is hearing this. is there anything --
>> what are your religious beliefs? >> i am a jew. why did it make you feel uncomfortable? >> i think that when you have people that, first of all, the face the pastors people, not to the government. it is like they are praying over us. satow when i stood then i and i have 100 eyes looking at me and questioning what is going on and thinking i am being disrespectful, it does put pressure on you and makes you very uncomfortable. it singles you out. that should not be in my town government. it should not be anywhere. can give the next prayer. why doesn't that resolve it? you can give a jewish prayer.
>> if i wanted to give a prayer, that is fine. that excludes other people. i believe that it has been one- sided and it has favored christianity. i do not think that is right. like to seed you happen? what do you want to see happen? >> i would like to see people feel they are included in the government and they are not made second-class citizens. they stone their faith or non- faith dashed -- based on their faith or non-faith. i think there are ways of doing it that would be more inclusive than what they are doing. >> i am melinda stevens. i live in the town of greece and i am an atheist. i want to thank the americans united legal staff for putting
thousands of hours into this very worthwhile and needed action. one thing i would like to say to my fellow atheists is, we need to come out of the closet. atheists are starting to come out of the closet now, after 9/11. there are many, many of us. we have to follow the lead of community and make our voices heard. we can't be shy about this because it is important. we need to be included in town government, and government at all levels. unless we speak up, we are not going to be. >> would any prayer work for atheist's? is there a model that would work for you? have heard atheist
indications that i admired. a state senator in arizona gave a wonderful one but he got blowback at the next legislative session from conservative christians. they bashed him and said two prayers for the one he disagreed with the previous time. so it is hard for atheist or other minorities to speak up because susanna and i have both experienced hostility from our fellow residents in the town of greece. it is not a pleasant experience. lettersd i got two telling us to stay away from town board meetings if we did not like what was going on, to move out of the town if we did not like it. i had vandalism to my house several times. one night someone came in the middle of the night, dug up my mailbox, smashed it, and put it
on my car. someone dismantled the fire hydrant near my home and, i have a pool in the backyard, threw it in the pool. things like that. you think the supreme court decision will change what you have been experiencing? >> time will tell. this has been mentioned in the media, why is it that christians could profess to be moral, upstanding people would do such things? >> any thoughts on the tenor of the questioning? >> i liked the way the session began with elena kagan. i thought her questioning was excellent. >> [inaudible] is there a middle ground? >> for years and years and years the town of greece had a moment of silence then suddenly in 1999
, the new supervisor changed all of that for the worst. >> [inaudible] >> i don't know. we filed a police report. we never find out. >> you don't know if it was related to this case. >> i believe it was. this all happened when the case was being discussed in the local media in rochester. i have no doubt it was related. >> thank you. aisha, i am the legal director for americans united. americans united has been so proud since 2000 and eight to have sponsored this case and have represented these extraordinarily brave and courageous women. we got involved in this case for a simple reason, we believe that what the town of greece was doing was wrong. are dissipating in local
government -- participating in local government is a irreversible right. it should not be conditioned on recitation of the lord's prayer or participation in any other prayer that is unique to a particular faith tradition. town residents attend these meetings, not as spectators, but as participants. children sports teams are invited to receive awards. people come to ask the board to take action and they come to seek zoning permits. exercising those rights and seeking those important benefits should not be conditioned on bowing one's head in recognition of the divinity of jesus christ. it is important to understand that we are not asking the board to discontinue its practice. up resenting prayer. we are asking that citizens not pressured to participate in
those prayers and the prayers be nondenominational and inclusive. our national motto is in god we trust, not in christ we trust. the pledge of allegiance refers to one nation under god, not one nation under jesus or buddah. the town of greece has chosen to thumb its nose at this long- standing tradition that has served us so well. residentstown's view, who participate in these meetings could be asked to join in a prayer that promises eternal hellfire to anyone who does not accept jesus christ as their savior. that can't possibly a constitutional. the supreme court will agree that civic participation onuld not be conditioned
compromising one's religious scruples. thank you. what do you say to atheists who do not believe in god? they should not cap to hear it even nondenominational prayer -- not have to hear even nondenominational prayer. >> this doesn't fact not --ognize the current increasing diversity of this country. we do believe under the proposal we have made that atheists would be allowed to come forward and present a prayer, as would polytheists or anybody else who comes from a more and diverse tradition than the monotheistic one the court opened with today. >> thank you. thehen a miss holly, i am general counsel for religious liberty. we filed a brief on behalf of
the respondents to stand with them and the united church of the crest. church usa. we are religious organization that stands for liberty and in this case we stand with those that challenge a prayer practice that would make their political rights incumbent on their participation in a prayer with which they do not agree. one thing the court recognizes is in the principle of religious liberty and that one's political should not depend on their adherence to religion. in this environment, the town council and other governments where there is erect interactive participatory relationships, it is improper government engages citizens in an act of religious worship. this is not a position against prayer. all religious people should pray for their elected officials but it is very important to
understand it is not the role of government to lead in religious act. when it does, there will be practical problems, theological problems, a myriad things that the court talked about today that can't be resolved consistent with our tradition of religious liberty to protect all people, whether they believe or do not believe. without harming government or religious congregations. n hollman. >> thanks. >> i'm with the fund for religious liberty. we believe that religious to the is critical constitutional protection. the town of greece permitted christians, jews, wiccans, to give invocations and recognized religious diversity.
allowing these kind of prayers does not harm our society, it recognizes and respects our religious diversity and our religious freedom. we are encouraged by the arguments this morning and are hopeful the supreme court will issue a decision that recognizes the freedom of our nation and our long history of permitting legislative pairs. thank you. >> we will have remarks from president obama this afternoon. he is traveling to dallas to speak with volunteers who have been working on an roman for the health care law. president obama left washington
for dallas one hour behind schedule because of a two-hour meeting that was not on his public schedule. the headline of a story, their obamacare anger in white house meeting. the president met with all 15 salmon -- senate democrats facing voters next year. the white house meeting came as democrats have grown concerned barbarae rollout with mikulski of maryland saying the problems had created a crisis of confidence. president obama is scheduled to speak in dallas in about 25 minutes. we'll have live coverage of his remarks when we have them. was on capitolus hill today talking about the health care law. here is what she said as we wait for the president. the websitele think should be shut down until it is totally fixed.
why keep limping along? down andust to shut it put it together the way it should be? your fixesointed out tend to have unintended consequences down the road. even after all of the fixes have been made and people ask why hasn't that happened? when there is a security that is a bad media campaign. it is negative. it hurts you. why not have one bad story and fix it all and everything is however long it takes, several weeks, a month, who knows? and then look back on that date
when it is working well. you have indicated it delays health care for a lot of people. one moreate that but time, why not just get it done right? i have a series of rules in my office, one of them is do it now. the second rule is do it right the first time. why not to shut down and do it right? >> mr. chairman, i am relying on the advice of not only the inside team and contractors but a lot of the outside experts who have come in to take a look at they did a number of things along the way. ofy did a series diagnostics, but that the entire system, and determined at the outset that healthcare.gov is fixable. it is not fatally flawed, which
was the initial report out of many people. secondly, we have asked that question a number of times, would it be helpful to take the make fixes along the way? we have been advised that does to help, that it is better do routine operations, some of which are patches which can be done while the system is running, and others are better to be done in the maintenance time between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. when the user experience is low and we actually take the system down. but given the fact that various particularly the functionality, the code, has to it hasten in batches, been advised you do not gain much from taking the system down for a week or a couple of weeks.
think is somewhat in charge of fixing this, said he has a punch list. them outgoing to punch one by one. how many of them items are there and which of them have been punched out? when do you expect them all to be punched out? in to help come manage the operations between the contractors and the cms team and the aggressive fixed schedule, he will be with us hopefully through this process. he has been a norm is the enormously helpful.
i would say they're a couple of hundred functional fixes that have been identified. they are in priority grouping, the first series of them has , and it depends on the night, it is hard to give you a moment by moment snapshot. there were a number that were done last night, hardware, installations were done over the weekend. day, it has:00 each identified whether or not the testing for the individual coding fix can be actually applied that tonight. so the list changes. we will get you an update and i would say we are into the list. we are not where we need to be. tois an aggressive schedule get to the entire punch list.
>> are you going to do and to and -- end oto end?> >> people are coming into the system and going through it every day. that helps identify some of what we are seeing. with are actually doing lifetime testing that they can go back and inform the team what else needs to happen. >> speaking for myself, i want this to work and i want to do what i can to make it work. that means you have to tell us what is going on candidly, fully, totally. so we do not wake up in behold, itlo and is still not there. >> secretary, four months i have expressed concerns about the privacy and security controls being implemented as far as this marketplace.
we know that key officials in the administration knew there were privacy and security risks and serious operational issues that might occur if the exchanges went live on october 1. made not to delay the launch until they were fully addressed. many people have called for an to conduct antity review of the marketplace to make sure there is adequate privacy and security controls. so i have a number of questions about why you made the decision knew forward even when you there were serious security risks and issues that would likely occur. when did you find out about the potential risk to users of the website? say the august
report from and independent -- >> so in august. >> might identify there were there gal had identified was a risk, there is a risk with every system and we took them seriously. >> by august you knew. who briefed you on the potential risks? again, senator -- >> did anybody brief you? >> we discussed the security as part of the overall operations with the operations team. but no one suggested that the risks outweighed the importance of moving forward, including our and dependent of valuator, who ase recommendations to cms is required. >> i have been suggesting that since april. you felt strongly the launch needed to proceed on october 1 for millions of americans who did not have health insurance so
they can get coverage as soon as possible. however, how did you balance that need with the risk they might fall victim to identity theft or have their personal information compromised by insufficient security controls? how did you balance that? >> i share your concerns about individual privacy and i would say the website was developed with the highest standards in mind. it is his mother -- is fisma certified. it meets the standards. seriously thery information in the hub that was designed so that the federal not storingas privacy information. it actually access other to storebut we tried the minimum possible information. we do not collect any personal
health information, which is typically done -- >> you do collect security numbers, social security numbers. >> sir, we do not collect them. functions a router that actually identifies the social security number and verifies it of that information is not kept and stored. >> till they have to give their family income and other -- don't they have to give their family income and other information? that is also on the hub. -- pingingis p&g and the social security database. it is not storing unique information. >> what were the tryouts with launching the exchange on october 1 rather than waiting until a later date? could other pieces of the marketplace have been delayed
rather than launched with security controls? saygain, senator, i would the standards that have been sent out for security controls were met. you mentioned and two and testing. there were features of the end testing.d to there were features of the system that were close to launch date in that is why the administrator chose to authorize a temporary authorization to operate and not a permanent one because you can't permit and three authorized and authorization until you have the entire system. we had features in the system, which we had chosen not to apply from the outset. feature.ing the spanish website. those need to be tested before the system can be fully authorized. committeeou tell the
how many people have signed up for health care under the current system? >> senator, we'll have enrollment numbers next week. the 834,ill working on which is the enrollment peace and we want to make sure we give you valid numbers. >> my time is up. >> mr. chairman, madam secretary, in community meetings to doe, they tell me everything they can to stop ridiculous, petty bickering in washington. and help get results by working cooperatively. in that spirit, i'm going to pass this morning on the blame game. for a few minutes, for this moment, let's just say democrats and republicans are going to try to find some common ground on this. act focusesle care on expanding coverage, financial
help to those who can't afford insurance, and more private sector choices for patients. act,e the affordable care the last health care reform was expansion of medicare to provide prescription jugs to senior citizens. d, it wasedicare part enacted during the book administration ended zero then -- during the bush administration and expanded assistance to the needy, increased marketplace choices. medicare part d has been a huge success and anyone who doubts it should think about the terrific hearing chairman nelson held in the aging committee a few weeks ago where democrats and republicans all made this a point.
godsendram has been a to millions of seniors by offering lifesaving medicine and it has cost 30% less than the congressional budget office had addicted. but the medicare ascription drug -- prescription drug program did not start out so high. the first few months of that bedlam.was i went back and looked at the newspapers from that time. i will just describe a few of the headlines. in drug plan upset seniors," read one. "a wasteful disaster." become a blunders monster." about thelines medicare prescription drug
program, democrats and republicans now, together, say are a success, the headlines of the program are the type of headlines that have been written about the affordable -- before the care act. fortunately, the medicare prescription drug program. fixed and it got the chance to get off the ground. if it had been repealed, millions of seniors today would not have access to life-saving drugs. not a single member of this committee wants that. so my question to you is, what could senators on the finance committee do to make the latest health reforms a the medicareway prescription drug program has been? >> senator, i think that it is always welcome to have elected
officials in their home states give information's to constituents about what the law says, what their options are, what their benefits could be and what choices they have and how to access the process. that would be enormously helpful, particularly to constituents who may not be web- savvy and may not know about the law or may not be following this but whose families need the benefit. feel there is no excuse for what has been a miserable five weeks. committed to the fix of the website, on the other hand i know that people are using it every day and the experience is getting better every day. to useencouraging folks the website, use the call
center, enroll in person at a health center, find a navigator in the neighborhood is also in nor mystery helpful. and i think we would love to work with the committee on the road, that look down the not just the marketplace we are talking about, but the impact of opportunity to look at delivery system changes. i know the committee has a bipartisan proposal around the sgr, i huge issue for medicare seniors. but looking at those kinds of frameworks that actually value, lower-er cost care as we move forward with more americans insured is one effort that should have a lot of bipartisan support. , theld be encouraged affordable care act has a lot of features in it that deal with
the delivery system changes, how we get a better value for the medical dollars we are spending, , access to preventive care could actually change health profiles for millions of americans. books kinds of opportunities which are finally here, thanks to the affordable care act. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome, madam secretary. i would like to say there is no question the website needs to get fixed. there is no words that can describe the frustration all of us have. what i want to focus on is the demand for affordable insurance that is out there in the response the public has had wanting to be on the website and get information because they need health care. they need health insurance. i want to share some stories with you and because of the time i would like to move quickly to
a few questions and if you can do yes, no, or something short, that is -- that would be great. let me share a story that was highlighted in an article in the l.a. times the talked about a woman named judith, 48 years old, works in a department store, had an insurance plan month.st her $65 a she thought she had insurance. then she was diagnosed with cancer and found out her plan fora $2000 annual limit hospital services, which would give her one day in the hospital. herhe delayed her care, cancer got worse, and she was in a difficult situation. madame secretary, after january 1, will judith or any other woman facing cap on the coverage for breast cancer treatment? >> no. >> will judith be charged more were denied insurance for being
a woman? >> no. 1, will judithy have to fear being rejected for coverage by her insurance company because of rest cancer? >> no, she won't. >> these are all good things. gregpast week i heard from and he wrote me a letter that said my wife barbara and i had a policy that covered our son. in the first week of october we that our son'sce policy was been canceled because it was not compliant with the aca. it had a high deductible, paid one doctor visit a year, no preventative care, very limited prescription drug coverage. advised to, we were go to the health care care exchange to obtain a new policy. we had no problem accessing the exchange or navigating through
the various policy alternatives with greater coverage than the old policy. we want to hear more of that. thank you for passing obamacare. son's insurance policy cover prescription drugs? >> yes. insurances son's cover important preventative screenings without out-of-pocket costs for the family? >> yes. >> these are good things. yesterday i heard from crystal, a small as this owner in michigan who has not been able to afford insurance three years. she admitted that before the affordable care act, she was one of the people who was using the emergency room and adding to the cost of everybody else in the remedial to his insurance when she got sick. last month she went to healthcare.gov and was able to secure health insurance quickly and uninterrupted. she got a plan for $163 a month.
she said to me, it is a payment i can live with and i can tell you how happy i am to finally have health insurance, especially at my age. madam secretary, we heard about small businesses for years struggling to them for insurance. -- struggling to afford insurance. anybody wanted to talk about. can you talk about how business owners in the marketplace is going to help them afford insurance? >> small business owners, under lessaw, employers with than 50 full-time employees have no obligation to provide coverage but many of them want to to keep an recruit to their best employees. in a marketten been where they pay higher rates and have cost if one of their employees get sick or has a
diagnosis. , and smalln option business owners can shop in or outside the marketplace, there will be new options in the markets. them and for the employers with fewer than 25 employees and low income workers, they may actually qualify for a new tax credit to provide that coverage, up to 50% of the cost of insurance so there are not only more choices, more features, a larger pool, but a significant tax incentive for employer coverage. thank you for joining us, madam secretary. theknow of my interest in false claim act that has brought $30 billion back into the treasury and is one of the best tools against fraud so i start by referring to a letter you sent to congress on october 30.
the letter states the department "does not consider qualified health benefits, other programs related to the marketplace, and other programs under obamacare to be federal health care programs." if that interpretation stands, it would have consequences. your letter calls into question whether enforcement and oversight tools that span kickbacks and bribes would be available to your agency to fight for it. understand why you are giving insurers within the exchange is a blanket exemption from years of civil and criminal laws and regulations, including ,nti-kickbacks and violations just to name a few. this is not about my position on the underlying law, madam secretary. you and i disagree on that. that youwe can agree
were moving forward with implementation, no matter how bad it goes and how many promises are broken along the way, and right now it is not going very well, trying to exempt obamacare from a host of criminal and civil laws designed to protect taxpayer dollars from fraud adds insult to injury. stopwere put in place to ripping off taxpayers. you should not be able to exempt obamacare from these protections with the stroke of the pen. a few questions. was this exemption requested by any providers and if so, who requested it? knowledge.to my this was a legal discussion in our department. because these are private insurance lines, they are not , the legalprograms interpretation was that the insurance companies offering plans on the marketplace and offering plans off the
marketplace should be treated the same. lands, theyt public are private planes. >> did you discuss this issue with any provider prior to their decision to join? >> no. >> would you make the lawyers who reviewed this decision available to my staff so that we can ask follow-up questions to better understand why the decision was made to weaken the ability to use available statutes to protect taxpayer dollars? >> i would be glad to do that. anyave not given up authority over fraud. our department continues to have careful monitoring. we can decertify plans, we can work with the attorney general. the state insurance departments are the regulators of these private insurance plans and private companies. they have a very aggressive anti-fraud effort.
it was just the legal determination, since these are private companies, these are not dollars being paid for out of the medicare trust fund, these are private premiums they should not be declared to be government health plans. plane medicare advantage is the same and so it is covered. same.ually, it is not the it is a private insurance plan but federal dollars are paid directly out of the medicare trust fund to the medicare advantage plan. this is different. individuals are paying free means to a private plan on the marketplace. next question is long. can i reserve my time? >> you may, absolutely. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary said billy is, i read i appreciatey -- your commitment to making the website work. i am concerned that a lot of the
thatssion seems to imply the problem we're dealing with is that we fouled up on the website and we hired a lot of experts, we are going to get it fixed and everything is going to be great. as the chairman asked would it not be better to hold off until we can get the website text, i want to expand beyond that. i am concerned not that you will get the website fixed or not but that we will get the law fixed. are now finding that the concerns many of us raised the four about whether the law was properly laid out in the promises made were real, are coming true. the president said if you like your plan, you can keep it. not because of the website, but because of the way the law was put together, we now see that for millions of americans, 3.5 that we know what, they are
getting canceled. 100,000 in idaho. way more than the percentage the president is talking about. the president promised you can keep your doctor. millions of americans are finding out they can't. the president promised we can cut the average family's premium by about $2500 a year. although i read your testimony where you talk about premiums going down, i do not know what datasets you were using because the data i am aware of show that the premiums are skyrocketing. down, theyt going are going up faster than they were project before the law. the president promised if your family makes or earns less than $250,000 a year, according to a million dollars, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. have somewhere
between $800 billion and over $1 trillion of new taxes that were delayed but are now starting to hit and squarely hit the middle class. isn't iton to you, it time for a timeout? the lies not working as it was promised. the website is not working. the law is not working. isn't it time for a timeout so we can go in and start finding out why we are seeing premiums why we're down, seeing people canceled, not being did, why we are seeing the failure of the promised operation of the law to occur? respectfully would disagree with your assessment about the law working. in the last three and a half years, there are millions of americans who have actually
received benefits under the law. the 7 million young adults who have insurance that were uninsured because they are now covered on their parents' plan. seniors are experiencing additional benefit in the medicare plan and also despite all of the accusations that somehow medicare advantage would cease to exist, we have a stronger and less expensive program today than we did. we have a 50% discount for seniors and their prescription drugs, if they fell into the doughnut hole. millions and millions of americans who have private employer coverage now have no co-pay for preventive care, from cancer screenings to immunizations. those are all part of the lot. and the lowest health-care cost increases in decades. in the private insurance market,
and medicare, medicaid. lowerare at an all-time rate of increase. >> secretary sebelius, you can go through those points, and for those data points, some of those developments have occurred. on the flip side, millions of americans are losing health care, millions and millions more see their health care premiums in the price for some of these fixes you are talking about is phenomenally higher than we understood where was represented. isn't it time to take a look at the areas of the law that are failing? >> actually, senator, in the marketplace, the rates have come in 16% lower than the budget office projected them to be. actual is not lower than fact. >> those were the projections.
the rates are lower, like we heard senator wyden talk about the projections around medicare part d, the rates came in lower. >> are you saying in the individual market, insurance rates are going down? >> i did not say they are going down. i said the rate are nowhere then was addicted -- lower than was predicted and they will have some financial help paying for their health insurance. to have to move on. >> mr. chairman, one of the toughest public service jobs i ever had was the elected insurance commissioner of florida. and one of the most bedeviling insurance markets was the individual insurance policy isause what would happen people would be enticed to come
in to cheat health insurance and then, over time, as the group there wasand sicker, no control on the rates. they would go up and then they found limited, limited health insurance. now, that is what the affordable care act is trying to address. we are talking about the individual insurance policies, not the group policies. we in this particular case, now have no lifetime limits, we do not have pre-existing and you can each look in your state and find many examples where the so-called cancellation has occurred but, in fact, they are going into a policy that is going to give them protections because of the 10 things that are required.
in the individual health insurance policies. colleaguesuld ask my , as they look at this, please consider, for example, a lady in florida, she had a policy that was $54 a month. that sounds great. that is being canceled. into theyou got internals, as reported by cbs, she did not have much coverage at all and had she gotten a disease like cancer, she would have virtually had no coverage. she's going to have that coverage under the policies in the individual market that are covered under the aca. to say one thing about what is going on in the states.
take a state like kentucky. they did their work. in the first month, they have signed up 30,000 people. state, it is one of ofstates basically, because politics, they decided not to do anything. would not accept money to set up . not going to expand medicaid. and look at the difficulty that now the federal government has in to set up this exchange 27 states. why couldn't we have been like kentucky and be ahead of the game? finally i would say, there is no excuse for the website not working. secretary, i'm one of the ones that said, as mr. chairman
twisted yourhave words when you criticize the fact that the website was not working. said it ise that inexcusable and people should be held to account. secretary, what legal authority do you have to guarantee the contractors that are responsible for this thing not working are going to be held to account? senator, we have significant contracts with a number of key we have paidies, out, i would say a portion of the money that has been bill,ered for the website clearly it is not up and running
at a sufficient level at this point. and we have new management, with one of our contractors, driving part of this fix. that thell make sure funding that has been provided delivers on the product that was promised. it is not there yet and that is a commitment. we are working with our auditors and teams to make sure as bills come in, they are reviewed and tot we have the opportunity make sure that the product we isd and have committed to delivered. >> mr. chairman, i will make a final statement, as someone who andfought and bled for this who sincerely thinks it is going to work in the long run, i want you to hold them to account. i want you to burn their fingers
beingke them pay for not responsible and producing a product all of us could be proud of. >> senator roberts. want toe secretary, i remind everyone how we got here today. over one year ago, members of this committee requested information on the rollout of the exchanges and said we received assurances everything would go smoothly. in march of this year, we heard people directly involved with implementation of the exchanges deeply worried about the website . in june, the government accountability office issued a report that should have served as a warning to you as a highlight the implementation challenges we now know were never addressed. i want to stress this was a warning to me. it was clear to me your department was being less than transparent about whether the exchanges would be ready by
october third i introduced the exchange sunset act of 2013. sunset theld have exchanges starting october 1, as promised. the office of inspector general identified privacy and security vulnerabilities and determined that "critical tasks remains to be completed in a short period of time." your contractor warned cms they were falling behind on their highest priority items. the warning included they may not have time in the schedule for testing and the services were intermittently unavailable. and several days later, the white house announced the data hub was "ready for operation." in mid-september, cms ordered a contractor to make a significant system to require
people to submit their personal information before viewing any plans or associated cost. days before the launch, testing showed a few hundred visitors crashed the website. the very next day, the decision was made to move forward with a bunch of healthcare.gov knowing there was a high security risk during testing. in short, i believe you were given advice from experts inside your agency and doubt that the health-care exchanges were not going to be ready. furthermore, i believe you chose to ignore these warnings and as a result you have put our entire health care says them -- a system in jeopardy. people are angry. millions of americans are scared. they do not know whether they are going to have coverage in a matter of weeks. they do not know what their coverage will include. they're getting letters from their insurance companies they
do not understand. more people are losing their insurance better signing up on the website. they are being directed to a website that does not even work. about do not often talk life and death in the context it deserves. it is real ande, it means the difference between life and death for many americans who are at a loss for what to do. and we know, madam secretary, fixing the website will not fix the ramifications that result from this law. so i have to wonder, if you have any regrets at all that you failed to heed the warnings you ignored the calls from members of congress as you proceeded to open the exchanges on october 1, immediately followed by a promotional tour to tell everyone "it is sort of a great problem to have." hometown, stephen
wrote "i am disgusted. i have's and the last two days trying to get my application through. this would not be an issue except the coverage i currently have is going away because of the new requirements. although we were promised we coverage."our you know this lot has serious problems. you delayed over half of the mandate deadlines. for employers, unions, and small businesses. nor for millions of other americans that are losing their health care. fearare worried and their is palpable. your main goal should've been to protect americans and lessen their risk and ensure their safety. this lawur zeal to put -- america'sou should all you accountable. i repeat my r